Do good, better. CoActivate is a platform for social activism.

  • feedback from peer reviewers

last modified August 29, 2010 by strypey

Paper for FreeCulture2010

===========================  REVIEWS  ==========================

---------------------------- REVIEW 1 --------------------------
TITLE: Free to Know or Free to Own?

This is an imaginative piece of work that warrants congratulations. Tying in the rationale of open source and peer collaboration within software and the environment is a most interesting and relevant approach. It falls at the heart of the free culture spirit and emphasizes the need to look at knowledge from a wholistic approach: all knowledge leads to human development.

While similarities are highlighted, my recommendation to the author is to try and also highlight the differences between the two forms of knowledge and the challenges that they face. I recall an article by Paul David on "Dynamo and the Computer...", where the author draws parallels between the two general purpose technologies. In the last section of his paper, however, David writes: "computers are not dynamos...", and points out the differences between the two. This is my comment to the author of this paper. Drawing from David, I write: the environment is not software, so we need to see the differences as well.

Finally, I ask: What, if any, are the differences in the developmental implications of curbs on freedom in knowledge related to the environment vs. software?

I liked the abstract and look forward to reading the paper.

---------------------------- REVIEW 2 --------------------------
TITLE: Free to Know or Free to Own?

This paper explores the intersections and affinities between Free Culture advocacy and the environmental movement-- a topic that already has been raised at events like A2K2 and one that deserves further exploration. Further, while the author will partly address the question of intellectual property, he also proposes to examine what is a lively (and I would add quite geeky) domain of farming: permaculture. I believe this is a fruitful case study to explore and it would be fascinating to learn about the ways in which permaculturalists imagine the nature of knowledge and sharing withing their collective practices, and the ways in which this may diverge or converge with other communities founded on the ideal of collaborating sharing.

---------------------------- REVIEW 3 --------------------------
TITLE: Free to Know or Free to Own?

The topic of the paper is promising, i.e. the connections between open source, free culture and organic/permaculture. However, most of these parallels, are, I believe, already well known. Perhaps it is no surprise then that the author states that this is based on an  older online essay from 2005. To someone that may be entirely unfamiliar with these topics, the essay may indeed be of great value, and perhaps it is to such a very broad audience that it was initially addressed. But unfortunately I don't see that it brings enough to the table for  the audience of this conference. It is not clear how the author plans to extend the older essay or lead it to a new, contemporary and relevant direction that would hold at least some promise of genuine insight. Alternatively, the author could perhaps explain better what is missing in our current understanding of biotechnology and related IPRs, and how the parallels he draws could improve our understanding. Or how those who work in advocacy or as academics in the study of biotech-related IPRs could learn from the insights developed by those who work in promoting/investigating free software/culture and the associated debates on intellectual property in these fields. A third avenue would be to focus on the differences rather than on the similarities and perhaps derive suggestions for research and advocacy from the differences (as well as from the similarities).

I feel that the conclusions as listed in the current abstract do not add much new to our current understanding of the topics, which makes this a rather weak submission. But I encourage the author to think about the directions I proposed above, in order to make more out of his understanding of these parallels, rather than merely exposing them to his audience.

Finally, I found the many references to Maori culture to be rather unhelpful and distracting, as the author does not relate the culture or language to the topic of the submission (which perhaps would offer another interesting way forward?).